Moral Uncertainty and On That Day

Leonard Cohen's recent albums - share your views with others!
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lightning
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Moral Uncertainty and On That Day

Postby lightning » Mon Nov 01, 2004 6:37 pm

" Some people say it's what we've deserved....I wouldn't know I'm just holding the fort since the day they wounded New York."
Leonard Cohen
On that Day

Is there any other "lover of God" or other who is unsure whether or not 3000 American workers deserved to be murdered in the 9/11 attacks?
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Postby lizzytysh » Mon Nov 01, 2004 6:56 pm

This is another case of necessary separation between a government and its people. I'm a 'lover' of both G~d and of people. The people of any country do not deserve to have their innocent lives taken. However, does a government's actions/policies that harm just as many people elsewhere, 'deserve' measures taken to try to put a stop to those actions ~ that's how I see the quandary.

Our role in the world has resulted in the deaths of as many and more innocent victims. None of these victims have deserved to die ~ by any measure. The "we" is not the collective 'we' of the victims; but is the country, to which Leonard refers to as "we," to be specific the government and its policies and actions, and implementation and horrific outcomes of those policies and actions, elsewhere in the world. It was a 'symbolic' attack against America; or, an intricately calculated one by the American government against 'itself' for socio-political purposes, with the victims being the pawns in this horrific game of political-power chess.

Leonard has no doubt that those people did not deserve to die. That's not the implicit 'question' that he's imposing with the song. However, one might consider how 'apologetic' our government is regarding the deaths of thousands of innocents Iraqi civilians, and the 'thousands' of soldiers there [from all sides], measured against our agendas [hidden and otherwise], our 'honourable goals,' our 'lofty ideals.' When we speak of who 'deserves' what, we must be circumspect in our asking.

~ Elizabeth
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Postby lightning » Mon Nov 01, 2004 7:55 pm

Where in the text does it say that Leonard has no doubt that these people did not deserve to die? He says " I wouldn't know..." That means he considers it a possiblility that they did deserve to die. If he didn't have a doubt don't you think he would have condemned the act?
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Postby lizzytysh » Mon Nov 01, 2004 8:11 pm

It doesn't say that, nor does it need to, Lightning. Leonard's "Some say..." relates to the government, not its people. He is 'posing' questions that relate to worldwide condemnation of the United States at this point in history. It also relates to what "Some say..." ~ as he, as an observer, notes a fact of what others say regarding our government. "I wouldn't know" relates to politics, not the killing of innocent civilians. I've never heard any claims, even from those most vehemently against us, that those people deserved to die. I'm guessing you would prefer that he had taken a 'stand' on this, particular day in history. For me, he is addressing all of the confusion that that day has created in our collective consciousness.

[No e-mails from Al-Qaida scouts, please. Seriously.]
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Postby lizzytysh » Mon Nov 01, 2004 9:22 pm

If we're going to take Leonard to task on this line, I suggest we break it down with a higher degree of scrutiny.

As you know, in our language, "I don't know" is not always used as a literal statement. It is sometimes used to suggest a feeling of being overwhelmed by the magnitude of something, i.e. [as one shakes his head in disbelief] "I don't know....I just don't know."

In addition, if the "we" in "we deserve" is to be interpreted literally, as being the victims themselves, then the writer of the "we" would, by necessity, have to be included as one of those who died in the Twin Towers on September 11, and he would be writing from the grave.
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Postby lightning » Mon Nov 01, 2004 10:51 pm

Government is people, politics is people.What else? Maybe the author of "First We Take Manhattan" meant he he didn't know what caused the attacks, not he didn't know if we deserved them. Hopefully. Remember, most of the women in the world are unveiled and nobody bothers them. The people of Holland and other lands have even greater freedom than the people US and nobody bothers them. Still, as a New Yorker who lived through 9/11 and breathed its lethal fumes I think the song is wishy-washy, and am glad he only sang it once.
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Postby lizzytysh » Mon Nov 01, 2004 11:24 pm

Dear Lightning ~

That's true, that these entities are comprised of real people. However, there's always a huge distinction made between the legislators and other politicians who initiate/perpetuate wars, and send other people's children to fight them; and those children who do the fighting. A lot is made of, "It's not the American people; it's the governmental policies of America" ~ now bin Laden is making the distinction that it matters not whether Bush or Kerry is elected; that it's the American governmental policies that are the issue. If it was the people themselves, that the perpetration of these attacks was contingent upon, he wouldn't be pointing to the policies, and would at least be pointing to the one of the men. The policies have no single person who can be held 'accountable' ~ they have been years in the 'making,' and some of those involved aren't even in office, anymore. I'm not even sure [really!] whether he means 'policies' that are official in any real sense of being able to find the paper on which they are written, or whether he broadbrush points to our generalized way of doing things, in the interest of whatever it is he presumes our motives to be ~ worldwide religious prosecution and takeover by Christians; oil control; imperialism; One World Order. I really don't know. I only know that a connection has never been drawn between the 'issues' and the innocent people who are paying the price for them.

You are one of those also-innocent victims who are paying a different kind of price. It's led by PTSD; long-term, damaging health effects; and continuing fear that grips you and many others in New York, as various threats and 'possibilities' come along. I feel that that fear was exploited by having the Republic National Convention held there ~ perhaps, even orchestrated [think 'Conspiracy'] to re-enforce how Bush can keep you 'safe.' The victimization didn't end with those who died [and their loved ones] as a result of September 11.

My feeling about Leonard's song is that the whole thing is so huge, so complex, so confusing, and so sad ~ that simplicity and understatement are the most effective ways to address all of that in a single, non-repetitive [which could lend itself to melodrama] song of tribute and sorrow for those who died. To do otherwise, I feel, would chance more exploitation of the situation. I have not a shred of doubt, not even a shred, Lightning, that Leonard does not feel that the victims, or the remainder of New Yorkers, deserved this huge, gaping wound that was perpetrated on an entire City. I'm feel badly and sorry that you feel his song was wishy-washy and gratuitous. I can't recall where I read it, but something I read some time ago suggested/conjectured that his own travels have been affected and compromised by his awareness that his Jewish heritage shows in the way he looks. He lives with the same kind of implied and potential threats. Everyone's feeling of safety has been impacted. My feeling has been that he handled the situation as tastefully as he was able. You sound like you feel angry, disappointed, and discounted :cry: .

I don't feel that Leonard abandoned you with regard to what happened; but feeling powerless to do anything that would make all, or even anything, that is wrong be right, he acknowledged the elements, but in a serious and sorrowful way. It reminds me of a tribute plaque more than a 'song,' that comes with repetition and verses. At the VietNam Wall and other war memorials, the plaques are very simply understated. It doesn't mean the creators of the memorials felt that those who died deserved it.

Love,
Elizabeth
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Postby ~greg » Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:15 pm

Where in the text does it say that Leonard has no doubt that these people did not deserve to die? He says " I wouldn't know..." That means he considers it a possiblility that they did deserve to die. If he didn't have a doubt don't you think he would have condemned the act?
If we're going to take Leonard to task on this line, I suggest we break it down with a higher degree of scrutiny.
Indeed!


Why don't you two try listening to things
*uncritically*
at least once your lives?

Try to hear what's there!
- and not what you want to hear
- which seems to be always just pegs to toss
your own hats (your opinions) on.



Now go and *listen* to Dylan singing
- almost anything, -but in
particular, what's probably his best known
song, "Like A Rolling Stone", so that,
hopefully, you've already heard it-

--listen, in this case, in particular to
the lines:

---"You never turned around
---to see the frowns
---on the jugglers and the clowns
---When they all did tricks for you"

Because that's exactly the way
Cohen sings the line: "I wouldn't know"

--With a frown!
-a surly snarl!
Dylanesque!



As a matter of fact he does the whole
opening stanza that way. However Cohen
always does things a little more subtly
than anyone else would - and especially
so in Dear Heather. And generally I don't
think he particularly gives a damn if
everyone gets his every nuance -or none
of them.

But this time I think he wanted to be certain
that you did get it. So he put the effect
quite blatantly on the first occurance
of "I wouldn't know".

But I wouldn't know
how to describe the effect (his intonation)
any better, if you still don't get it!


~greg.



---Monosyllabic - Carl Sandburg
--------------------------------
--LET me be monosyllabic to-day, O Lord.
--Yesterday I loosed a snarl of words on a fool,
------on a child.
--To-day, let me be monosyllabic … a crony of old men
-------who wash sunlight in their fingers and
------enjoy slow-pacing clocks.
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Postby Anth » Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:35 pm

This song also raised many questions for me, but not the way lightning asks. The line "Some people say" means plainly "some people say". Some people say, that God is Great, some people say There's no God. My answer would be - I don't know. Why should I post my own relationship, if I really don't know ? And I think that Leonard's position is absolutely fair. I suppose he as most of us were shocked by 9/11, however there were certain reasons for this to occur and these reasons are not just absolute evil in the face of Osama Bin Laden. And these reasons may not be brushed aside. That's why "some people say".
Love's the only engine of survival
Leonard Cohen LT
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lightning
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Postby lightning » Tue Nov 02, 2004 5:12 pm

A phrase sticks in my head from my studies of anthropology: "Lost in a morass of moral relativism" Also a phrase from the Bible, "Woe to them who call evil good and good evil." Those prophets thought they had it down, but we moderns are not so sure , with the exception of religious zealots, and woe to us all when they abound. Yet a failure to condemn the slaughter of innocents is indeed a failure. Who can quarrel with that?
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Postby Anth » Tue Nov 02, 2004 5:37 pm

Sorry for this, but you forced me to ask:
Who condemned the slaughter (ok, accidential fire, military necessity, etc.) of 100 000 Iraq civilians during Iraq operation?
Condemnation is the easiest way. But it won't put things back in order.

"And the dealer wants you thinking
That it’s either black or white.
Thank G-d it’s not that simple"...
Love's the only engine of survival
Leonard Cohen LT
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Postby lizzytysh » Tue Nov 02, 2004 5:47 pm

Greg ~

I'm trying, I swear I'm trying, to get past the anger I'm seeing in your posting to see what it is you're saying. It'll take me a couple more readings to be sure I'm getting it right.

I will say that I feel that Leonard would be considered a more 'patriotic' American than I am. I may be projecting more as to what he meant, didn't mean, or what I think he may have meant, didn't mean. I won't say I'm not guilty of that. I do try not to be, however. I'll get back with you.

I actually ~ if push comes to shove ~ would subscribe most to what Anth has said, that Leonard truly doesn't know ~ any more than many of the rest of us do.

Regarding what I did say, I will also say that at least I responded to Lightning.....and, in so doing, the subject opened up for others, who now are expressing their thoughts on it. I always smile just a little when a posting sits with no response, and then after someone finally does respond comes more responses on how they're wrong. It causes me to wonder where was that person in the beginning, that they didn't agree with the original poster, or take issue themselves with the original poster, if disagreement was the case.

Anyway, I'll sort through your anger to get to the message, and will respond later.

~ Lizzy
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Postby lizzytysh » Tue Nov 02, 2004 5:55 pm

I also agree with Anth's most recent posting here. Historically, my agreement on it is clear through my history here. However, my focus was slightly different in my long posting.

~ Lizzy
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Postby Young dr. Freud » Tue Nov 02, 2004 6:38 pm

I always smile just a little when a posting sits with no response, and then after someone finally does respond comes more responses on how they're wrong. It causes me to wonder where was that person in the beginning, that they didn't agree with the original poster, or take issue themselves with the original poster, if disagreement was the case.
Nineteen minutes. That's how long the post sat. Lizzytysh you must let the other patients have a chance or I will have to take away your priveleges.
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Postby lizzytysh » Tue Nov 02, 2004 6:47 pm

Dear YDF ~

Oh dear, now I see that your chronos cannot be trusted. The 'said, other patient' [~greg] did not chime in until "Tue Nov 02, 2004 12:15 pm" to set us all straight. [Oh, and to levy personal attacks whilst doing so.] The original comments ~ open for discussion ~ were made "Mon Nov 01, 2004 3:37 pm." Those were the timeframes to which I was referring.

~ Lizzy
Last edited by lizzytysh on Tue Nov 02, 2004 10:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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